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Present Concept of Ethnobotany

At present Ethnobotany is used in broad sense. Beginning in the 20th century, the field of ethnobotany experienced a shift from the raw compilation of data to a greater methodological and conceptual reorientation. Beginning in the twentieth century, the field of ethnobotany experienced a shift from the raw compilation of data to a greater methodological and conceptual reorientation. Today, the practice of ethnobotany requires a variety of skills:

  • Botanical training for the identification and preservation of plant specimens.
  • Anthropological training to understand the cultural concepts around the perception of plants.
  • Linguistic training to transcribe local terms and understand native morphology, syntax, and semantics (www.newworldencyclopedia.com).

This is also the beginning of academic ethnobotany. Considerable information on the traditional uses of plants is still intact with the tribal’s (Sood et al. 2001). But the native healers are often reluctant to accurately share their knowledge to outsiders.

Today the field of ethnobotany requires a variety of skills: botanical training for the identification and preservation of plant specimens; anthropological training to understand the cultural concepts around the perception of plants, linguistic training, at least enough to transcribe local terms and understand native morphology, syntax, and semantics.

Modern ethnobotany is an interdisciplinary field drawing together scholars from anthropology, botany, archaeology, geography, medicine, linguistics, economics, landscape architecture, and pharmacology. It reflects the floral type of a particular region, the culture of the people in that region and their relationship. It includes all the traditional knowledge and use of plants as food, clothing, fuel, poisons, narcotics, stimulants, perfumes, dyes, medicines and so on.

"Ethnobotany is a term used to refer to the academic discipline that deals with people’s interactions with plants. As an academic discipline, the definition of Ethnobotany is varied but there are some common elements in the concepts. It is broadly defined as the study of the total relationships between plants and people."

- Cox and Balick 1996


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